By MARK EVANS
Like a monster in a horror movie sequel, COVID-19 has clawed its way back into the lives of Ste. Genevieve Countians.
Jennifer Mueller, administrator of the county health department, told county commissioners she had “some bad news” during their meeting last Thursday.
The news was that the county had 21 active COVID cases, seven of them cropping up during the previous day.
After peaking at 110 active cases in November 2020, active confirmed cases had dipped to either none or one a week for several weeks. It had risen slightly to six the previous week.
“We are beginning to see a small but steady increase in positive cases,” Mueller said. “It is nothing like what we were seeing almost a year ago, but it’s something I want to make sure everyone is aware of.”
As of Thursday, Missouri had had 14,339 new confirmed cases in the previous seven days, including 47 deaths.
Data can be confusing. While Missouri’s increase of 7.7% during the week leading to Aug. 1 was second-lowest in the nation (to Arkansas), its two-week average of 306.3 new cases ranks 45th, with only five states having more. The state’s two-week figure peaked at 522.6 on Nov. 22, 2020, then plummeted to 58.7 on Feb. 28. After a brief spring rise and plateau, it fell as low as 36.6 for the two-week period ending June 6.
Since then, it has taken off.
The county has reported 1,879 confirmed cases since March 2020, but is still sitting on 19 deaths and three probable deaths.
Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson reassured Mueller that she has done all she can.
One thing Mueller is pleased to see is the county’s figure of 74.1% of those 65 years old and older having gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. Nearly 70% (69.7%, to be exact) have been fully vaccinated. The elderly, as well as individuals with health issues such as diabetes, continue to be at greatest risk if they contract the caronavirus.
Mueller did say that there does appear to be a greater amount of children catching the disease, now that the Delta variant is becoming its prime strain.
It was agreed that no one in the room wanted to see a mask mandate. Individuals wishing to mask up are encouraged to do so.
Quarantines, though, by necessity, will be required.
“Information given to positive cases and their contacts remains the same as last year: a positive case is asked to quarentine away from others for 10 days from the start of their symptoms,” Mueller said. “Household contacts are also asked to quarantine for 10 days from the last day they were in close contact with their family member.
“Should a contact become symptomatic during that 10-day period, they should quarentine an additional 10 days from the onset of their symptoms.”
This caronavirus is highly contagious.
“Anyone who has been in close contact with a positive case is also asked to quarantine for 10 days from their last exposure to the known case,” Mueller said. “A symptomatic person is encouraged to be tested.
“A vaccinated person who has been in close contact with a positive case does not need to quarantine but the CDC just released it is recommended they mask for 14 days from the last exposure and if they become symptomatic then quarenitne for 10 days.”
Testing can be done at either walk-in clinic in Ste. Genevieve by appointment. The walk-in clinics are the preferred sites for testing as they are set up for isolation.
Bloomsdale Clinic’s number is 573-483-9492 and the Plaza Clinic is 573-883-4408.
Mueller recommends using common sense.
“We continue to recommend: stay home if you aren’t feeling well, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough/sneeze, maintain distance indoors, and get vaccinated,” she said. “Masks are not mandatory but they offer a level of protection and if not vaccinated, it’s recommended you wear one indoors to protect yourself and others.”
There is much talk nationally about whether the various COVID vaccines are as effective against the Delta variant as they have been against the original strain.
“We are seeing some breakthrough cases of those being vaccinated becoming infected with COVID, but those cases are very few,” Mueller said.